The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is a regular and very welcome guest on the program. Prompted by Ace of Spades, I asked Chris on Tuesday prior to the presidential debate about MSM’s treatment of Joe Biden’s serial misstatements at last week’s VP debate. The transcript is here.
At the conclusion of the interview I inquired if Chris knew of Rashid Khalidi, and Khalidi’s friendship with Bill Ayers and Khalidi’s long association with Barack Obama. Chris didn’t, which didn’t surprise me as I hadn’t know about it either until an interview with Stanley Kurtz on Monday.
Khalidi is a Columbia professor and strong advocate for the Palestinians. He is a man of the left, and he is close to Obama and Ayers. Obama’s friendship with Khalidi would be unsettling to many supporters of Israel –if it was well known, which it isn’t. How close have Obama and Khalidi been? Here’s the opening of a Los Angeles Times article from 2007:
It was a celebration of Palestinian culture — a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.
A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.
His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”
Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.
And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.
Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.
What Kurtz explained to me is that Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi are very close:
HH: Tell us about Khalidi. Tell us who he is and his role in Obama’s life.
SK: Rashid Khalidi is really, in a sense, the American successor of Edward Said, a very strong advocate for the Palestinians, extremely radical in his views and his opposition to American foreign policy. He was a friend and colleague of Obama. Apparently they used to get together and discuss world affairs. And he’s practically the best friend of Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers features Khalidi in some of his books about how to politicize the teaching for students. So actually, the more you look into it, the more you see that this is not just people running into each other. And again, I object to the idea of just simply counting the times people were together in a room. When you fund Bill Ayers education projects, with hundreds of thousands of dollars, when you as Bill Ayers publish Rashid Khalidi’s essay in your book of collected essays, they might have gone on. That’s a lot without meeting once.
What all of this suggests is that the Hyde Park community of hard left intellectuals was tightly knit, and that Obama was at the heart of it. MSM’s indifference to this community and its impact on Obama is nothing short of astounding, like leaving Harvard and Hyannis Port out of story after story on Kennedy’s run for the presidency in 1960, or his Vietnam experiences out of Kerry’s bio in 2004.